Wedding: How To: Seal the Deal

To get the wedding (services) you've dreamed of, it pays to read the fine print

Imagine discovering, en route to your ceremony, that that perfect antique car — the 1961 white Rolls-Royce Phantom V you rented for your August wedding — has no air conditioning. Imagine melting in the backseat of that same Rolls-Royce, sweat dripping down your back into the delicate layers of your tulle skirt, your makeup doing a similar trickle down your face — until you eventually abandon ship, and catch a ride in the air-conditioned limo carrying the rest of the bridal party.

Now imagine your Big Day with every little detail — the transportation, the flowers, the food, the photography — going according to the happily-ever-after plan. There’s a way for that to happen, no fairy godmothers needed: Step-by-step tips from Philly’s savviest wedding professionals on ironing out fail-proof vendor contracts to get you hitched without a hitch.

Test-drive. (Make no assumptions.) You wouldn’t have committed to that silk floor-length Oscar de la Renta gown before trying it on. Applying that same approach to the many other details of your wedding goes a long way toward making the day as surprise-free as possible. Have your hairstylist give that Gwyneth-circa-the-2000-Oscars chignon a whirl on your hair before you decide that’s how you’ll wear it on your wedding day, and take a whiff of the lilies you think you want in your bouquet to make sure they don’t set your persnickety allergies ablaze. Dip different flavors of pound cake into an assortment of fillings and buttercreams before deciding which you’ll cut into on your day.

And when arranging transportation with an antique car dealer for that 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, take a trip to actually see the vehicle: “Sit in it, smell it. See if they’ll take you for a test drive,” says wedding planner Melissa Paul, of Center City’s Evantine Design. And, she adds, “If you’re getting married in the summer, ask to talk to a bride or groom who used the vehicle during your wedding month.” He or she will be able to give you a firsthand account of the temperature inside the car and the quality of the ride, before you book it.

To this end, Wilmington-based photographer Laura Novak suggests taking a good look at your potential photographer’s sample albums. “The album you end up with should be consistent with the samples you were shown in the studio,” she says. Again, verify  by asking to speak with some of the photographer’s recent clients. If your vendor can’t provide reliable — and satisfied — references, you might not want to go the distance with him or her. The more familiar you are with the vendor and the product said vendor has promised, the easier it will be to map out a contract both parties are comfortable with.